Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Potty Training Problems

Question: My son is 2 years & 8 months old. He is in daycare. At home he will not go potty. He acts like he is scared of the potty. I've tried the adult toilet and his potty chair, but all he does is cry and say no. I ask his teacher everyday if he went potty and she tells me that he'll sit on the potty but she doesn't know if it's him going or his cousin, (she sends them to the potty together) I tried that at home but he still doesn't take to it. I need help! - Erica

Answer: Because of his need for independence, your son might exhibit some assertive behaviors in an attempt to control his bodily functions. Doing so, he is able to also control his environment to some extent. "No" becomes a familiar household word.

Because he loves you, he feels more comfortable telling you No! It's more difficult to say that to a teacher or another stranger. This may explain why temper tantrums happen more at home, rather than at nursery or the sitters. They feel more comfortable with parents and can more easily show their emotions.....Strange as it seems.

The ultimate goal of potty training is to make the process a positive one, with the least amount of frustration for all involved.

Allow your son to go at his own pace. Have positive reinforcement. Have a sticker chart or some other form of reward whenever ANY attempt is made on his part, even if it's sitting on the potty with his clothes on.

Under no circumstances should a child be pressured into either starting or continuing the process. This could delay it more. It helps to understand that potential conflicts can arise also if there are major stresses in a child's environment. Beginning school, a new house, new sibling, etc. Review these. All children are different, with different rates of maturing.

Allow him to guide you. It also helps to understand that "the world revolves around the toddler" and anything he can do to control what's around him will be done.

As in all parenting, consistency and positive reinforcement (no negatives) will benefit both parent and child.

Good luck with potty training!
Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • More about potty training
  • Are vaccines safe?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.